Initially frustrated by their high-flying visitors, a second-half brace from Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall and Kelechi Iheanacho’s first home goal of the season were enough for the Foxes. Enzo Maresca’s men have now matched the best start ever made to a Championship campaign – by Sheffield United in 2005/06. There is now a seven-point gap to third place, currently occupied by Preston after an encouraging start of their own. Leicester are now also two clear of Ipswich Town in second.
"It’s difficult to find the space and the solution against this kind of team," Maresca said at full-time. "In this kind of game, you have to be patient. I’m happy. At the same time, this start is something not normal. There are some important clubs in the league who have struggled. We have won nine in 10 so we’re happy with that, but in less than 72 hours, we have another game so we have to be focused on that now."
There’s a long way to go, 36 league matches in all, but the early signs are hugely encouraging. City’s one change to the XI which overcame Blackburn Rovers on Sunday was enforced upon them due to Jannik Vestergaard’s suspension – for five accrued yellow cards. That opened the door for Conor Coady to make his league debut for the Club after a foot injury. Another 30,000-plus crowd streamed through the turnstiles at King Power Stadium hoping to see the winning continue.
Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall now has five goals for the Foxes this season.
Maresca had warned his Foxes side that they would need to be patient this week – and the early signs were proving the Italian’s comments to be prophetic. Jamie Vardy was beaten to a header in the box by Jack Whatmough, while Benjamin Whiteman’s late challenge halted Wilfred Ndidi’s march into the box. When Stephy Mavididi threaded an inventive through ball into Dewsbury-Hall’s feet, the Academy graduate’s eyes lit up. Liam Lindsay, though, was primed to slide in and take the ball away from him before he could shoot at goal. There was no way through despite the home side's domination of the ball.
For all of Preston’s defensive steel this season, there has been a sting in the tail up front too. They themselves have won six matches so far. The first sign of that arrived on 27 minutes, down the right flank. Brad Potts fizzed the ball across goal, later seeing it cannon off Wout Faes’ boot and then into a diving Mads Hermansen’s back. Mercifully for City, the ball bobbled away to safety and not into the net. There was their first warning. Another came just before half-time. Duane Holmes broke through the middle, piercing Leicester’s defensive lines open, but drilled his low drive inches wide of the post.
Nigeria international Kelechi Iheanacho has hit four goals in 2023/24.
More was needed in the second half, Leicester not having a shot on target in the first. Ndidi’s header didn’t trouble Freddie Woodman in the Lilywhites’ net inside the first minute of the restart, but it at least outlined City’s intent. Dewsbury-Hall curled wide from range as well. Preston were trying to frustrate their hosts wherever they could. Woodman’s goal-kicks were taking longer and longer to be taken. The locals' angst would have climbed further if Hermansen didn't palm a Holmes hit from 20 yards out around the post. There were smiles all round on the hour, however. Ndidi’s pass was intended for Vardy, but it bounced off Ali McCann, essentially turning it into the perfect pass for Dewsbury-Hall, who arrowed it beyond Woodman. Maresca’s men had kept their cool against two banks of four and finally plotted a way through.
City were roared on by a vocal home support on Filbert Way.
From the restart, substitute Yunus Akgün just couldn’t quite get there when Dewsbury-Hall squared it across the Preston goalmouth. Leicester wanted another for security. Reasserting their ascendancy was the order of the day for City. They were intent on keeping the ball and tiring North End out with relentless passing. It's a central pillar of Maresca's strategy and it paid off as the half wore on. Leicester were nearing 80 per cent possession. Their second was trigonometry in motion too with Dewsbury locating Ndidi, who in turn skidded a low cross over to Iheanacho, another sub, to tap it in at the far post. There will be clips of the lengthy build-up to that goal all over social media tonight for sure.
Leicester City are top of the Championship with a two-point lead over second.
Later on, Ben Woodburn had the ball in the net for Preston, but a foul on Faes meant it wouldn’t stand. The Foxes pushed for a third and got it late on – in the 90th minute. Iheanacho’s ball was commuted forwards and sent into the box by Marc Albrighton, another off the bench. Iheanacho had burst forwards to get on the end of it. His first-time effort might have been saved by Woodman, but the visiting ‘keeper couldn’t reach Dewsbury-Hall’s follow-up. The table-topping Foxes march on.
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